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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chinese Open Congress With Socialist Pomp

BEIJING -- China's parliament was regaled Tuesday with visions of a rosy socialist future but given few bold initiatives for reinvigorating industry and farming, reducing poverty or improving government.

In speeches to the National People's Congress, Premier Li Peng and top officials hewed close to Beijing's established plan for ushering an economically vibrant -- and firmly communist-ruled -- China well into the 21st century.

"Through the next 50 years of effort, our great motherland will emerge in the world as a modern country with a new look," Li said in his annual address.

New five- and 15-year plans stress more development and reform, adopting technology, modernizing farming, repairing state-owned industries, opening to the world, wielding "macroeconomic" control, easing regional differences and building "spiritual civilization."

Li repeated Beijing's pledges to tackle crime, corruption and inflation but offered little in the way of bold new approaches, as he has in past years. His central theme was what has been said often before: Stay the course toward Deng Xiaoping's hallowed "socialist market economy," work harder to achieve it.

Some diplomats felt Li was signaling a stalemate as the leadership awaits the death of Deng, the 91-year-old "reform architect" whose embrace of market economics, but not political reform, may have accomplished all it can.

Asked if he detected anything new in Li's statements in the two-hour address, Russia's ambassador and veteran China-watcher, Igor Rogachev, said he saw "nothing special, I think."